2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 Coupe
AU$77,100 (plus on-road costs)
(3.5 / 5)
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 Coupe is a bit like the TARDIS from Dr Who – genuinely surprising inside. But are you better off with the standard GLC SUV, or does the coupe find its own niche?
Whenever you mentioned Dr Who to someone, there are two usual responses: 1) “I love that show!”; and 2) “I just don’t get it”.
At the risk of alienating a fair few of our readers, this writer falls into the latter category. There’s no denying it has appealed to generations of TV viewers, and the theme music has stood the test of time. But the effects are naff, the acting is B-grade, the Daleks are one dimensional and the changing of the main actor happens more often than Bobby in Mad Men.
Regardless of what you think about the show, there’s no argument that it has had a definite impact on our vernacular.
Anyone who wants to describe something that appears small on the outside but hugely spacious inside uses the word “TARDIS”. In case you’re wondering (we’ll save you from Googling it), TARDIS stands for “Time And Relative Dimension In Space”. If you haven’t seen an episode yet, then lucky you, but that aside, the TARDIS is basically a time machine that looks like a police telephone booth on the outside but inside it is cavernous.
The name has been used to describe everything from houses to hotels. And, more often than not, it has been applied to cars.
See, the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 Coupe isn’t exactly shaped to be practical. It’s based on the standard Merc GLC SUV but it looks like it’s had the rear shaved off it. A lot of the sheet metal is actually different, but an SUV that has a sloping back end should, by rights, cut into rear headroom. Yet open the rear door and, once you’ve ducked under the low door surround, you settle in to a back seat that has plenty of leg, foot, and headroom.
With a six-foot driver up front, a six-foot passenger can sit behind with no issues at all. Strangely, headroom hasn’t been impeded. Yes, this is a TARDIS-like car.
Behind the rear seats, though, is a boot that gives the game away: this is where all that space has disappeared. The luggage space is best described as a long parcel shelf. It’s still rated at 500 litres (compared with 550 for the GLC SUV) but a couple of flat bags, a small shopping trip, and that’s about it. Forget tall suitcases or anything bulky. That’s the price you pay for having coupe styling.
By the way, if we mentioned the word Coupe, we know that it’s not a two-door, but we’re running with it (through gritted teeth).
Hop into the front seat and the GLC’s interior looks exactly like a C-Class. That’s because it’s based on the C-Class. That’s also why it’s called the GLC; the last letter in the model name shows the sedan platform Merc’s SUVs are based on. Thus, GLA, GLC, GLE and GLS. Mercedes nomenclaturen aside, the interior is a very nice place to be.
The build quality is first class, the open-pore wood veneer looks fabulous and the COMAND infotainment system is now bang up to date and far easier to work out than previous iterations. It’s still not quite up to the intuitive level of Audi’s MMI nor BMW’s iDrive6, but it’s getting there.
Adjusting the seats is cleverly done via a group of buttons that reside on the doors (shaped like the seat profile), which saves you from feeling around on the seat base to get comfortable.
Other nice touches are the simple climate control, the cool ambient lighting and the excellent Burmeister sound system. The presentation is minimalistic, fairly easy to use and there are no squeaks or rattles. As we mentioned, it’s a very nice place to reside.
So how does it drive?
Press the oversized, round, silver start button and the engine hums into life, initially sounding a little rattly from the outside. Oh, so this is a diesel, right? Actually, no, it doesn’t have “CDI” written anywhere.
It’s actually a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, so the idle noises seem a little odd. But with the windows up, it’s virtually silent.
The gear lever, like all Mercedes models, is a stalk mounted behind the wheel, so don’t mistake it for an indicator. Ah, column shift, remember those days?
Push it down to go into Drive and then the nine speed automatic works away, seamlessly blending ratios, keeping the engine in its sweet spot. There’s 155kW and 350Nm from the turbo four-pot, so it has enough grunt to make the GLC feel lively when needed, but you do need to work it. Which is probably why there’s the GLC 43 AMG higher up the scale.
Truth be told, The GLC 250 is definitely happier while cruising along rather than being hustled at ten-tenths, but even when pushing it, there’s plenty of grip thanks to its big wheels and fat rubber. That does impinge on the ride quality a little, mostly when the car finds sharp ridges but the body control over flowing undulations is very good.
The suspension is different to the GLC SUV to make it feel a little bit sportier, and back to back the difference is apparent, but we just wish it had a few more horsepower to give it that edge over its sibling.
Because it’s billed as a coupe, Mercedes-Benz has also sharpened up the steering ratio, which combined with a flat-bottomed wheel makes it feel a bit nicer on turn-in than the standard GLC. It’s more direct and the feedback is quite good.
But add it all up together and the GLC Coupe really is a mixed bag. It looks kind of cool but also a bit strange. The interior is beautiful and the passenger space is good, but the boot is completely impractical. It drives quite well but needs a bit more grunt, and the wheels are a bit too big to be comfortable.
There’s no question that the GLC 250 Coupe is definitely going to suit a very specific customer. Most SUVs could be cross shopped at this level, but the Coupe? No, you’re either going to love it or hate it. It’s unique, well made and with a three pointed star up front it should be reliable, too.
But at $77,100, the GLC Coupe is a whopping $12K more expensive than the GLC. And what do you get for it? A few more fripperies and a lot less practicality. Which is why, for most, the standard GLC 250 will be the one to go for.
It’s just as spacious for passengers, arguably more resolved in its styling, cheaper, and it’s got a decent sized boot…to boot.